Online Fundraising Change #3: Rethink and Restructure Your Donor Relationships
The biggest thing that needs to change for nonprofit organizations this year is how we think about our donors. We are in the midst of an enormous generational shift that has major implications for our work. The Greatest Generation of older, civic-minded Americans who wrote checks out of a sense of duty and trusted charities to use their donations wisely is moving on. The torch has passed to a far more demanding series of donors, who view their giving as an investment, and want to be informed of the progress.
That means it's not enough to declare a need and send a thank-you.
Consider how to reorganize your fundraising efforts with a focus on the donor experience at each touch point with your organization. Here are some steps to take:
- Have a Be Your Donor Day. Go to your website. As the donor, ask yourself: Is it apparent what your organization does? Do you see something that forges an emotional connection? Are there tools to share what you are seeing via social networks, right on the home page? Are the voices of donors and supporters clear in the content? Does the website feel like a community or a brochure?
- Donate online and offline. How and when are you thanked? What happens after that? Call information to ask for your 800 number and your local number. Call both and see what happens. Sign up for e-News. Tweet your support. What happens?
- Do a "walk" online and in the shoes of your donor at least one once each quarter. It will surprise and perhaps horrify you. That's okay. It will very quickly uncover where you are failing to make the donor feel amazing about his or her support of your organization - and supply the insight needed to improve the situation.
- Pay particular attention to your online tools. Are you using them to enhance the donor experience or are they lacking? If they don't work well, fix them or stop using them.
Here's the good news: If you make your donors feel appreciated through your website, you will truly stand out. Most nonprofits aren't focused on their donor experience online. When you start doing that, you will be a wonderful anomaly. You will delight, engage, and entrance the people you want to reach.
Online Fundraising Change #4: Get More Tangible and Impact-Focused
Here is another paradigm shift required this year: From need to impact.
Fundraising is not about what you need. Really. It is about what the donor - through you - can achieve.
Everyone knows you need money. So do the other 1.8 million nonprofits in the United States - as do the millions more around the world. If that's all you've got to say, you are just another organization with yet another appeal.
What is special about you? The answer can't simply be that your programs need support. It must be that with your donor, together you can achieve a difference that no one else can.
We should stop building our case for support around a need-based tax categorization and instead talk about how we make a difference.
So how do we talk about impact?
- By talking about individuals - one person or animal at a time. Avoid talking about massive numbers, mind-numbing statistics, or intangible outcomes. (There is plenty of research on why this is ineffective in conveying impact and motivating giving and it's laid out in Network for Good's recent eBook, Homer Simpson for Nonprofits: How People Really Think and What It Means to Your Cause.) Telling individual success stories will give people the emotional connection to your work that is so essential to the donor relationship.
- Online tools, from websites to Twitter, can be especially helpful in making that individual connection and showing the impact of your work.
- On your website, Facebook page, eNews and everywhere else, put these individual stories front and center. Then, to the side, provide a quick glance into how much of your donors' funds is going to that human impact - i.e., your programs.
The bottom line: Do the best job you can showing where the money goes, in a human, authentic, and transparent way -- in all your outreach online.
Want a checklist of eight things to look for in a successful acknowledgement program? Looking for examples of nonprofits that are turning heads with their excellent supporter-centric messaging? Want to find more background on why our thinking needs to shift? Get all of these complementary resources in the full eBook on which this series is based! Download your free copy of "The 8 Online Fundraising Changes You Must Make in 2010".